Tyrone residents petition for audit
TYRONE—Residents submitted a petition with 219 signatures asking the Tyrone town board do an independent audit of the Wayne Village Cemetery records, budget, and oversight, Tuesday, July 9.
Richard Little, resident, said the petition had 112 town residents and 107 non-residents. He added the petition is asking the town to request the New York State Comptroller’s Office to also do an audit. The petition states, “we are extremely unhappy with the condition of the cemetery,” which is located on Route 230. At the end of discussion, the board agreed to write a letter to the Fitzsimmons Law Firm in Watkins Glen to request any of the cemetery files they might have in storage.
Supervisor Gary Jackson said if a cemetery is abandoned and its association disbands, it becomes the responsibility of the town. While it is called the “Wayne Village Cemetery,” the property falls within the Tyrone town borders. Jackson said by law the town is responsible for mowing the cemetery at least three times a year, which it does.
Board member Pamela Grimmke said the town can’t do an audit, because they do not know where most of the cemetery records are. She explained the information was lost following the cemetery association’s lawyer being disbarred. She said the previous board was told the Fitzsimmons Law Firm in Watkins Glen had the records.
However when contacted, Sue Morton, legal assistant for the Fitzsimmons Law Firm, explained “I cannot find any records from the Wayne Village Cemetery.” She said the law firm only inherited some of the lawyer’s documents after he was disbarred. Morton added she has searched, but cannot locate any cemetery files.
Jackson added the town of Wayne transferred $2,185 to Tyrone a year and a half ago that was marked in the Wayne budget for the Wayne cemetery. He said Tyrone is holding on to the funds until a cemetery association forms.
Little asked the town if this meant the town wasn’t accepting the petition. Jackson responded by saying the board would review it. He added a cemetery association would get more done if there were already 200 people willing to sign a petition.
Pat Pagano, resident, said there are 46 veterans buried in the cemetery who served from the War of 1812 to Vietnam. She said, “I think it’s a blemish on your reputation.” Pagano added the residents are trying to talk with the board, but there’s a wall. She said the town should collaborate, instead of it being “dumped back in our laps.”
“If you want it maintained up to your standards, you need to start your own organization,” said Jackson.
He replied a group of residents should come up with the costs to maintain the cemetery and present it to the town. Jackson added, “You want to dump it on the town.” He shared the paperwork to form an association from the state with Little.
“My suggestion is, create a new organization and work with the town board,” said Jackson.
John Grimmke, president of the Tyrone Union Cemetery Association, also spoke to the residents. He said a group can operate on very limited funds. He said the Wayne cemetery has approximately 213 graves over an acre.
“It can be done,” said Grimmke.
In other business:
• Bill Kennedy, Schuyler County Emergency Management Office coordinator, addressed a letter from the county looking to be the lead agency in adding three new communications towers. He said Schuyler will do a state environmental quality review (SEQR), unless one of the town boards wants to take responsibility. Kennedy said Schuyler is looking to place new towers in Watkins Glen, Hector, and Sugar Hill State Forest.
• Schuyler County Legislative Chairman Dennis Fagan addressed reports about the assessment settlement with Inergy. He explained Inergy’s property was originally assessed for $29 million, but the company wanted the amount lowered to $15 million last year. Fagan said state made a mistake in the assessment and if the state made an adjustment it would be significantly less than anything the county could get. Schuyler approved a three plan with Inergy, shifting the assessment to $26 million in 2104, $24 million in 2015, and finally $22 million in 2016.
• The town board approved the sale of a chipper for $500 and a gas tank for $186 on Auctions International. Highway Superintendent Paul Ernhout said all other items did not receive the minimum bid amount and were rejected.